End the US Shark-Fin Trade

ALERT DIVER

A bipartisan bill before Congress is poised to stop the sale of shark fins in the U.S. 

I grew up in and around the sea, surrounded by pioneers of ocean exploration and conservation. If there's one thing I learned from my experiences with my father, Philippe Cousteau, and my grandfather, Jacques­Yves Cousteau, it's the interconnectedness of ocean life. Every creature has its place, and one group of creatures in particular plays a vital role in ocean ecosystems while also having a special place in divers' hearts: sharks.

The joy of seeing these magnificent predators in their natural habitat, on their terms, is difficult to describe to someone who has not been lucky enough to experience such a moment. A shark's graceful power can make you feel at once vulnerable and deeply privileged to be able to witness the beauty of this animal in its habitat. Seeing a shark while diving engenders a feeling of being a guest in its home.

This is why divers, more than anyone, should be outraged at the degrading, disgusting treatment of sharks. To satisfy a demand for shark­fin soup, sharks are hauled onto boats, where their fins are hacked off, and then their mutilated bodies are tossed back into the ocean, where they drown, bleed to death or are even eaten alive by other fish.

The conservation organization Oceana reports that up to 73 million sharks are killed in the shark-fin trade every year. This is a trade that needs to be stopped. To that end, Oceana has worked with lawmakers in congress to introduce the bipartisan Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act (S. 3095/H.R. 5584), with cosponsors Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Reps. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (I-MP) and Ed Royce (R-CA). This bill would make the buying and selling of shark fins illegal in the United States. I urge legislators and citizens to do everything they can to ensure this bill passes.

The fin trade is one of the greatest threats to sharks worldwide. The act of shark finning is currently illegal in U.S. waters, and even though 11 states have passed shark­fin trade bans, fins are still being bought and sold in the United States. Once a fin is removed, it is impossible to know whether it came from a shark that was legally harvested for its meat or from a shark that was finned at sea.

A recent report on shark finning revealed large discrepancies in shark­fin trade data, with other countries reporting sending the U.S. more shark­fin products than the U.S. recorded importing. It is nearly impossible to know the true origin of any fin that enters or leaves the United States. Of the shark­fin products entering the U.S., more than 85 percent come from countries with no finning regulations in place. A 2006 study found that the 14 most common species involved in the Hong Kong fin trade (the historic leader in the global fin trade) were all near­threatened, vulnerable or endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. So with no good way to know where a fin comes from, those entering the U.S. could be the product of a practice that is banned in U.S. waters, and worse, they may be the fins of sharks that are at risk of extinction.

An all­out trade ban would solve this problem. There would be no need to try to figure out whether a fin was hacked off a live, endangered shark, because no fins could be sold in the United States. We're already employing this strategy for elephant ivory and rhino horns, and it's time sharks received the same protection. Polls show that 8 in 10 Americans support a nationwide trade ban, and dozens of organizations such as Sierra Club and Sea Shepherd have declared support for the Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act. But for this bill to pass it needs all the support it can get, and I can't think of a better standard bearer for this issue than the diving community.

As you all know, an ocean without sharks is an ocean out of balance. Sharks provide some of the most memorable moments in a diver's career, but they also provide balance that is necessary for every population in any given ecosystem to thrive — from sea grasses to corals to fish. The abundance and biodiversity that we divers live for is dependent upon a healthy ocean, and a healthy ocean needs sharks — and sharks need you.

Please call and tell your members of congress to support this bill. I urge you to make this a central issue for the diving community. Watch the video at the link in the sidebar, and share this appeal with your friends and family.

Since my grandfather took his first scuba dive a little more than 70 years ago, sharks have been giving divers the ultimate thrill. Unfortunately, unless we act as a community, many of our favorite species may not make it another 70 years. Those moments of awe and wonder will become fewer and farther between. It's time to end the buying and selling of shark fins in the United States, and it's time for divers to stand up for a fish that has given us so much.

Learn More

Watch the video at youtube.com/watch?v=IFzKH­O9WM0.

Read Oceana's report at oceana.org/FinBanNow.

Cousteau Bio Pic Premieres in Berlin, Germany

DER SPIEGEL

Endlich, das Telefon klingelt. Das muss der Vater sein, der immer abends anruft, von seinen fernen Tauch-Expeditionen auf den Meeren überall auf dieser Welt. Alexandra Cousteau ist dreieinhalb Jahre alt, ihr Vater Philippe und ihr Großvater Jacques-Yves Cousteau sind Weltstars. Niemand vor ihnen hat die Unterwasserwelt so farbenprächtig, so spektakulär, so unterhaltsam gefilmt und damit Millionen Zuschauer gefesselt.

Alexandra nimmt den Telefonhörer ab. "Papa?" Stille. Es ist nicht der vermisste Vater. Sondern jemand, der ihre Mutter verlangt und sagen wird, dass Philippe Cousteau an diesem 28. Juni 1979 bei einem Unfall mit seinem Flugboot gestorben ist.

37 Jahre später erzählt Alexandra Cousteau in ihrer stuckverzierten Berliner Altbauwohnung vom viel zu frühen Tod ihres Vaters. Aus dem kleinen Kind ist eine zierliche, blonde Frau geworden, elegant gekleidet in einem engen blauen Blazer.

Rastlos wie einst ihr Vater und Großvater reist Alexandra um die Welt, um gegen Verschmutzung und Überfischung der Meere zu kämpfen. Seit zwei Tagen erst ist sie aus Argentinien zurück und hat endlich Zeit für ihre beiden Kinder. Sie sind fast im gleichen Alter wie Alexandra, als 1979 das Telefon klingelte. 

Natürlich könne sie sich nicht mehr an den traurigen Anruf erinnern, sagt sie. Aber ihre Mutter habe davon erzählt, und in den vergangenen Wochen wurde sie immer wieder daran erinnert - durch die anrührende Szene aus dem Kinofilm "Jacques - Entdecker der Ozeane", der gerade in den deutschen Kinos angelaufen ist.

Bereit, sein Leben zu riskieren

"Es ist hart, den Vater auf der großen Kinoleinwand sterben zu sehen", sagt Alexandra Cousteau. Sie ringt nach einem passenden Begriff für ihre Gefühle und wechselt von der Muttersprache ins Englische, weil ihr nur das Wort "bittersweet" passend vorkommt. "Mein Vater ist nach seinem Tod etwas in Vergessenheit geraten, in der vordigitalen Zeit gibt es nur wenig Spuren von ihm", erklärt sie. "Dabei war er einer der großen Männer seiner Epoche und hat Millionen Taucher inspiriert. Als ich den Film sah, war ich sehr glücklich, aber mit Tränen in den Augen."

"Jacques" ist keine historische Dokumentation, erzählt aber eine wahre Geschichte, die so viel hergibt, dass sie keiner künstlichen Dramatisierung bedarf. Im Mittelpunkt steht das Leben von Jacques-Yves Cousteau. War er der geniale Tüftler, der mit seiner "Aqua-Lunge" das Tauchen revolutionierte? Oder ein irrer Fantast, überzeugt davon, genetisch veränderte "Fischmenschen" würden bald den Meeresboden besiedeln? War er ein Umweltschutz-Pionier? Oder ein skrupelloser Filmemacher, der für seine oscarprämierten Dokumentationen Tiere quälte, um besonders spektakuläre Aufnahmen zu bekommen?

Auf jeden Fall war JYC, wie ihn seine Freunde nannten, bereit, sein Leben zu riskieren. Einst träumte er davon, als Marineflieger die Welt zu entdecken - bis ein schwerer Autounfall seine Pläne durchkreuzte. 1936 überschlug sich sein Wagen, Cousteau brach sich zwölf Knochen. Sein linker Arm war derart zertrümmert, dass Ärzte zur Amputation rieten, um einen womöglich tödlichen Wundbrand zu vermeiden. Cousteau wagte alles und gewann: Der Arm verheilte.

Mit der Fliegerkarriere war es vorbei, doch der 26-Jährige stillte sein Entdeckerbedürfnis auf andere Art. Seit er im Sommer 1936 erstmals mit einer Unterwasserbrille im Mittelmeer tauchte, träumte er von den Tiefen der Meere: "Ich tauchte meinen Kopf unter, und die ganze Zivilisation schwand mit dieser einen Bewegung dahin. Ich war wie in einem Dschungel, der noch nie von all denen erblickt worden war, die sich auf der undurchsichtigen Erdoberfläche bewegten." Es war ein Erweckungserlebnis: Seine Augen hätten sich für "die Wunder des Meeres" geöffnet; er habe sein "altes Leben abgeworfen".

"Selbst Fisch werden"

Wieder riskierte Cousteau sein Leben - um "selbst Fisch zu werden". Mit den damals üblichen schweren Tauchhelmen und -anzügen, von außen mit Luft versorgt, erschien ihm das unmöglich. Also experimentierte er, oft leichtsinnig, mit neuen Atemgeräten und verlor mehrmals unter Wasser das Bewusstsein.

Dann kontaktierte er Emile Gagnan, Experte für industrielle Gasausrüstungen. Gemeinsam entwickelten sie die "Aqua-Lunge" weiter, auf der bis heute das Prinzip des Tauchens basiert: Per Atemregler ließ sich fortan komprimierte Luft aus Flaschen automatisch dem wechselnden Wasserdruck anpassen.

"Befreit von Schwerkraft und Auftrieb flog ich durch das All", jubilierte Cousteau nach dem ersten Tauchgang. Und später: "Ich bin das Meer, und das Meer ist in mir." Die neue Technik legte das Fundament für seinen Welterfolg: Der Film "Jacques" zeigt, wie er nachts aufgeregt an Bord seines berühmten Forschungsschiffes "Calypso" mit dem Finger über die Meere eines leuchtenden Globus fährt. Und zu seiner Frau Simone sagt: "Stell dir vor, dort unten gibt es eine ganze Welt zu entdecken!"

Als echter Entdecker wollte Cousteau diese Welt natürlich festhalten. Umtriebig, ehrgeizig, erfindungsreich, hyperaktiv. Seinen ersten Film hatte er 1942 noch mit einer simplen Kamera im wasserdichten Einmachglas gedreht. Nur 14 Jahre später stießen seine Taucher in der oscargekrönten Doku "Die schweigende Welt" mit unter Wasser brennenden Magnesiumfackeln wie tollkühne Eroberer in die Tiefe vor. Sie rasten mit von Cousteau entworfenen Unterwasser-Scootern hinter Fischschwärmen her, flogen über bunte Korallengärten und inspirierten damit später einen James-Bond-Film. Sogar den Haien stellten sie sich, geschützt nur durch einen engen Käfig.

Mit der "tauchenden Untertasse" in die Tiefe

Cousteaus Fantasie kannte keine Grenzen: 1964 versenkte er eine Art bewohnbares Aquarium im Roten Meer und lebte mit seinem Sohn Philippe wochenlang unter Wasser - in klimatisierten und beleuchteten Räumen, rauchend und Champagner schlürfend. Mit einem futuristischen U-Boot, der "tauchenden Untertasse", stieß Cousteau in immer größere Tiefen vor.

Geschickt machte er sich selbst zur Marke: In mehr als 100 Filmen ließ er seine Crew auf der blendend-weiß gestrichenen "Calypso" stets bald weltberühmte rote Wollmützen tragen. Um exorbitant teure Expeditionen zu finanzieren, schloss er auch Verträge mit der Öl-Industrie ab und sondierte den Meeresboden nach möglichen Bohrorten. Dem US-Sender ABC rang er die Rekordsumme von 4,2 Millionen Dollar ab, für die zwölfteilige Fernsehsendung "Die Unterwasserwelt des Jacques Cousteau". Und doch reichte das Geld meist nicht. 

Die Sucht nach den aufregendsten Bildern machte den schmächtigen Mann mit dem hageren Vogelgesicht bald angreifbar. Meeresbiologen warfen ihn vor, nur die Sensationslust zu bedienen, aber nichts zur Forschung beizutragen.

In "Die schweigende Welt" von 1956 hängten sich Taucher an Panzer von Riesenschildkröten, während Cousteau aus dem Off über die gehetzten Tiere witzelte. Die "Calypso" verfolgte Pottwale; ein panisches Jungtier verfing sich in der Schiffschraube und verendete. Haie wurden mit Walkadavern angefüttert und wild gemacht, später an Bord der "Calypso" gezogen, von der Mannschaft zu Tode geprügelt. Frühere Crew-Mitglieder behaupten gar, sie hätten massenhaft Delfine getötet, um sie an Haie zu verfüttern.

"Ein Held mit Fehlern"

Alexandra Cousteau, engagierte Aktivistin der Meeresschutzorganisation "Oceana", kennt diese Vorwürfe. Manches stimme, manches sei aus Neid erfunden worden. Die Kritik sei aber vor allem eines: ungerecht. 

"Es ist einfach, aus heutiger Sicht Dinge zu verurteilen, ohne den historischen Kontext zu berücksichtigen. Mein Großvater war in den Fünfzigern der Erste, der solche Filme gedreht hat. Dafür gab es damals noch keine Regeln oder ein Umweltbewusstsein." Für sie ist ihr Großvater deshalb ein "Held mit Fehlern", aber eben ein Held: "Ich kenne nicht persönlich den Cousteau aus den Fünfzigern und Sechzigern. Ich habe nur den Cousteau aus den Achtzigern und Neunzigern erlebt. Und da gab es niemanden, der sich so sehr für die Umwelt eingesetzt hat."

Dass sich Jacques-Yves Cousteau tatsächlich zum engagierten Umweltaktivisten entwickelte, war womöglich auch der Verdienst von Philippe. Im Kinofilm streiten beide erbittert über die wahre Episode, ob man zu Unterhaltungszwecken Seelöwen an Bord der "Calypso" nehmen dürfe. Das sei Disney, Schwachsinn, Tierquälerei, wettert Philippe, der seinem Vater zudem nie dessen zahlreichen unehelichen Affären verzieh.

"Sie sind oft heftig aneinandergeraten", sagt Alexandra Cousteau, "und waren doch ein Herz und eine Seele." Am Ende, so sieht sie es, schärfte ihr Vater die Sinne ihres Großvaters für den Umweltschutz. Gemeinsam fuhren die beiden 1975 zu einer Expedition in die Antarktis. 16 Jahre später errang Jacques Cousteau seinen größten Sieg als Umweltaktivist: Er bewegte die Mächtigen der Welt dazu, in einem Moratorium den Schutz der Antarktis für 50 Jahre zu garantieren. Selbst Georg Bush, Freund der Öl-Multis, unterschrieb.

Alexandra Cousteau hat von ihrem Großvater mit sieben Jahren das Tauchen gelernt. Als Jugendliche war sie mit ihm begeistert wochenlang auf Expeditionen und wird dasselbe mit ihren Kindern tun. Und doch sagt die Enkelin des berühmten Tauch-Pioniers am Ende einen traurigen Satz, zugleich eine Warnung: "Ich tauche nicht mehr gern. Ich bin zu oft an Orte zurückgekehrt, an denen es heute kaum noch einen Fisch zu sehen gibt. Die Meere, die mein Großvater erforscht hat, existieren so nicht mehr."

Alexandra Speaks at the Inaugural Congreso Economia Verde in Cordoba Argentina

TELAM

El Presidente y el gobernador cordobés fueron los principales actores de la jornada inaugural del evento internacional que tiene como uno de los principales objetivos concientizar a la sociedad, a las instituciones y a los gobiernos sobre el tema.

El presidente Mauricio Macri y el gobernador cordobés, Juan Schiaretti, fueron los principales actores de la jornada inaugural del primer Congreso de Formación de Líderes de América Latina: Economía Verde, Conciencia y Acción, un evento internacional que tiene como uno de los principales objetivos concientizar a la sociedad, a las instituciones y a los gobiernos sobre la importancia del desarrollo sustentable.

El Congreso -que finalizará este viernes- se lleva a cabo en el Complejo Ferial Córdoba y entre los expositores se destacan cuatro premios Nobel como Shirin Ebadi (primera mujer musulmana en recibir el Nobel de la Paz), Ada Yonath (única mujer viva en recibir un Nobel de Química), Kurt Wurthrich (Premio Nobel de Química) y Mario Molina (pionero en investigación medioambiental).

En la inauguración, Fabián López, ministro de Aguas, Ambiente y Servicios Públicos de la ciudad de Córdoba, tuvo a su cargo la presentación del congreso, junto con Jorge Brown, CEO de la Fundación Advanced Leadership, y Alejandro Spinello, director de la Fundación Advanced Leadership en Argentina.

La primera disertación de la jornada estuvo a cargo de Robert Kennedy Jr., activista medioambiental, quien puso énfasis en las políticas sustentables como buenas prácticas de negocios.

El referente internacional destaco que "La economía verde está generando dinero en el mundo, equiparándose cada vez más con la industria del carbón".

Además aseguró que "Argentina puede darle energía a todas sus provincias con los vientos de la Patagonia".

Por su parte, Alexandra Cousteau, reconocida activista medioambiental, incentivó a los oyentes a contemplar los problemas mundiales del agua y la necesidad de proteger este recurso tan valioso.

"Si no hacemos cambios a gran escala, nuestros océanos van a seguir muriendo. Estoy aquí para invitarlos a crear un mundo mejor para las próximas generaciones", manifestó la nieta del oceanógrafo Jacques Cousteau.

Por su parte, el premio Nobel de Química, Mario Molina, (pionero en investigación medioambiental) explicó cómo el cambio climático está afectando a todas las áreas de la economía, pero más allá de esto indicó que "el riesgo de incrementar la temperatura global 5 grados sería catastrófico para la humanidad".

Schiaretti pidió “cuidar el medio ambiente” en el Congreso de Economía Verde

"Ya no solo hablamos de afectar la economía, sino que sería una falta de ética contra las generaciones futuras y estaríamos rompiendo realmente rompiendo la sustentabilidad" aseguró Molina.

En su ponencia explicó la necesidad que tienen los estados en aplicar políticas dirigidas a la implementación de energías y economías sustentables.

En tanto,  y reafirmando su compromiso con el medio ambiente, el cantante popula Axel, habló con Télam Radio sobre el Congreso de Formación de Líderes de América Latina: “Economía Verde, Conciencia y Acción”.

“El encuentro tuvo la participación de grandes personalidades, es el primero de América Latina y tiene gran relevancia para el país”, enfatizó el músico sobre el Congreso que debate sobre el rumbo ambiental mundial.

Por último, Axel advirtió sobre las críticas que la sociedad muchas veces le hace a la política, al respecto indicó que deberíamos hacer una introspección sobre nuestro accionar de sustentabilidad, ahorros y cuidados, ya que “la política comienza en casa”.

Op-Ed: Stand Up For The Sea Floor

The San Diego Tribune Op Ed

by Alexandra Cousteau and Ted Danson

The Pacific Ocean off California is unlike any other place in the world. Its fluorescent sunsets and powerful waves have been the inspiration for pop culture, art, education and conservation. Visitors and locals alike flock to California’s 840 miles of breathtaking coastline. However, just beyond the limits of the naked eye lies an important part of the ocean that many people don’t know about, the seafloor. Remarkably, we know more about the moon orbiting the Earth about 230,000 miles away than we do about the seafloor. 

While ocean exploration has come a long way in the last several decades, less than 0.5 percent of the world’s ocean has been explored, photographed or filmed. This summer a team of researchers and explorers with Oceana, MARE (Marine Applied Research & Exploration) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration embarked on a scientific expedition to document deep sea life in the Southern California Bight offshore of Los Angeles. The resulting footage and data unveiled a remarkable underwater world unlike any other.

Alexandra and the Oceana crew on deck with the remote operated vehicle (ROV) that will be deployed to photograph the ocean floor.

Alexandra and the Oceana crew on deck with the remote operated vehicle (ROV) that will be deployed to photograph the ocean floor.

Imagine a colorful underwater forest of gold, purple and pink coral colonies comprised of thousands of individual animals. These structures, like sponges, rocky reefs and underwater canyons, are habitat for dozens of fish species — many are sought after in commercial and sport fisheries — and are frequented by octopus, sea stars and crabs. The expedition’s images show shark egg cases hanging on coral branches like decorations, rockfish nestling into cylindrical sponges, eels peering out of rocky reefs and basket stars precariously balancing on sponges shaped like vases. These diverse seafloor structures provide shelter, feeding grounds and breeding areas for countless species of marine life. 

Without healthy productive seafloor habitats, the oceans wouldn’t be the same. In order to balance a vibrant fishing economy and ocean biodiversity, we must protect the oceans from the seafloor up. 

The greatest known threat to seafloor habitat is destructive bottom trawl fishing gear. In this industrial fishing practice, heavy equipment that drags along the ocean floor holds open large nets, scooping up not only the targeted commercial fish species, but also nearly everything else in the path of the trawl. Corals, sponges and other living seafloor structures are toppled, crushed or ripped from the seafloor. Growing only millimeters a year, corals and sponges could take hundreds to thousands of years to recover, if ever. Currently, bottom trawling off Southern California only occurs in shallow, nearshore waters, leaving the vast majority of seafloor wilderness pristine. This provides a unique opportunity to protect this exquisite habitat now. 

A starfish, coral and a green spotted rockfish. (Photo Courtesy of Oceana)

A starfish, coral and a green spotted rockfish. (Photo Courtesy of Oceana)

The California coast is an aquatic treasure trove supporting one of the busiest marine highways in the world. Fed by cold nutrient-rich waters, the California Current has been nicknamed the “Blue Serengeti” as it is home to whales, dolphins, fish and sea turtles that migrate up and down the coast, provides nurseries for sharks, hosts rookeries for sea lions and so much more. The brilliance of ocean wildlife that converges here makes it globally significant. A healthy seafloor, in turn, helps this ocean wilderness flourish.

Federal fishery managers have an opportunity at their meeting in Southern California this month to safeguard these deep sea ecosystems from a future of destruction by bottom trawl gear. The Pacific Fishery Management Council has taken action before to prevent the expansion of destructive bottom trawling. We are asking this management body to extend this precautionary approach to seafloor areas off Southern California, a truly unique gem right off our coast, while maintaining the nearshore fishing grounds where trawling already takes place. 

While most of the Southern California seafloor has yet to be explored, the places that scientists have visited are vibrant, unspoiled and unlike any other across our water planet. We want new discoveries to be made through a camera lens, not seen for the first time broken and dead in a trawl net. 

Some of the most known fragile seafloor structures from California to northern Washington were protected in 2006. Research expeditions over the last decade demonstrate the many undersea treasures still being discovered that are risk if we expand bottom trawling over the California seafloor. 

The Pacific Fishery Management Council is scheduled to discuss the fate of Southern California’s seafloor and accept public comments at its meeting in Garden Grove on Friday.

We invite Southern Californians to stand up for the deep sea and help save the seafloor. 

Cousteau is a senior advisor to Oceana, is a part of the National Geographic Emerging Explorers Program, and a filmmaker and globally recognized advocate on water issues who continues the work of her renowned grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau and her father Philippe Cousteau Sr. Danson is an award-winning actor, longtime ocean advocate and Oceana board member.

Alexandra Cousteau on climate change, the oceans and not eating tuna

DALLAS NEWS

Environmentalist Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of famed explorer and documentary filmmaker Jacques Cousteau, is in town Thursday for a 7:30 p.m. speech and Q&A at the University of Texas at Arlington's Maverick Speakers Series. Tickets are still available.

She's planning to discuss — among other topics — her support for sustainability efforts and the fate of the oceans, which were an important part of her childhood. Her father, Philippe Cousteau, was also part of the family's conservation dynasty.

She is an adviser to the environmental group Oceana , founder of Blue Legacy International, a 2010 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and frequent speaker on all things water.

Here's a few thoughts from the 40-year-old Berlin resident on her family, the state of the oceans and the unique attitudes about climate change in the United States.

On why people who don't live near oceans should care about the oceans:

Cousteau: "When I look at the impact my grandfather's films had, they inspired people all over the world, who lived on the ocean and who didn't live on the ocean. There are so many ways for people to feel inspired and engaged about the oceans now. They might not be able to go to the ocean every day like people who live on a beach do. But I think that they can care. They can understand that rivers lead to the sea, so if you pollute the rivers, it's going to end up in the seas. We should save the whales, even if you never see one in person. It's still important. Or we shouldn't eat seafood that's on the brink of extinction. Eating a tuna is like eating a panda."

On how the environmental landscape is different now than in the 1950s and '60s when her grandfather came to prominence:

Cousteau: "People didn't know what was under the surface of the ocean in the '60s...It was brand new to them. It's hard to imagine that today because we're so used to it. But back then, it was a real novelty. For him [Jacques Cousteau], his most important contribution was creating that awareness and introducing people to what was there. Since my grandfather was born in 1910, we've added 6 billion people to the planet. The issues we're facing today are much more urgent. And our window for addressing them is much smaller. ... Our impact is widespread, from climate change and ocean acidification to deforestation."

Her view of the ongoing debate about the existence of climate change:

Cousteau: "Americans are the only nation in the world that doubts it [climate change]. That's kind of weird to me. You don't hear that debate anywhere else [Cousteau got her college degree in the U.S. but now lives in Germany]. Certain stakeholders have very successfully politicized an issue that should not be political. Climate change should be an issue where we sit around the table and talk about what's happening, talk about the impact that it will have on our homes and our prosperity and our future. ... It's highly politicized and people are so angry about it. I don't understand it. The United States is a country that can mobilize and invent and imagine and create. ... Change is going to happen whether we like it or not."

On deciding to follow in what's essentially the family business:

Cousteau: "I never really wondered what I was going to do with my life. ... What did you like doing with your family when you were young? Fishing? Hiking? Camping? Whatever that was for you, that's what this is for me. I just kept doing it. For me, I don't really consider it a job. It's part of who I am. These issues matter to me so much because the oceans of my childhood have disappeared. The oceans that we have today are fundamentally different than the oceans of the '70s and 80s."

On moving toward a more sustainable future:

Cousteau: "I don't see it as asking people to sacrifice. I see it as asking people to invest the way we invest in our retirement, we invest in our children's education, we invest in our home. Eating more sustainably or not leaving pesticides in your yards that will kill the pollinators or recycling, these aren't sacrifices. I don't think there's a lot of people who just don't care about the places where they live or the water and the land that shapes those places. Everybody cares about that. We're just seeing it differently."

Alexandra Cousteau Receives Eco Hero Award At Planet in Focus

FERN TV

Filmmaker Alexandra Cousteau speaking at Planet in Focus in Toronto

During closing night at the Planet In Focus film festival in Toronto, the International Eco Hero Award was given to none other than filmmaker and water advocate Alexandra Cousteau.  The grandaughter of the legendary undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau and daughter to Phillipe, Alexandra has continued her family’s legacy of exploring our beautiful oceans.  Times have definitely changed since Jacques Cousteau has first set out in the oceans and he did not nearly experience the many issues and problems that his granddaughter Alexandra has faced today when it comes to conserving our oceans.  The senior adviser for Oceania is a true advocate and documentarian exploring the relationship between climate change and the oceans as well our current behaviour and attitude towards our water systems.

It has always been said that in order to solve some of the world’s biggest environmental problems is to think globally and act locally and you can see that Alexandra Cousteau is quietly spearheading this campaign.  Throughout the many miles she has trekked around the world, she has taken her conservation efforts through filming and exploring local water issues such as here in Toronto, Moncton, and Colorado.  Not as glamorous as her expeditions both her father and grandfather took but Alexandra Cousteau sees this as an opportunity to tell her story.  Her work in these films is to make everyone aware that there is a need to for a turning point to take place so that future generations will not be left with nothing in our oceans.  Sustainability is a great theory that will always be in question but there is a need to for many of us to be as passionate as Alexandra Cousteau about our oceans.

As she spoke to the audience after receiving her award that night, Alexandra Cousteau explained that she had just came back from the Philippines where she continued her efforts.  This became that much more inspiring because there are not too many who would set foot in this country especially now with all the political turmoil that is going on.   To welcome a non-native person to the country to discuss her interest in sustainable fisheries reforms and  stop illegal commercial fishing in the Philippines is raising the stakes pretty high.   But you can see that Alexandra Cousteau is certainly a risk -taker and doing whatever it takes by all means necessary to protect the oceans in this country.  Cousteau certainly believes in this area that the oceans are a resource for the people of the Philippines which is why conservation is necessary.  Just like many other areas in the world, the pollution and depletion of our waters and water systems becomes an unlikely resource to everyone.  When that happens as it is occurring now, times will severely tough.

What is unique about Alexandra Cousteau is that she has opened the door much more wider for environmental filmmakers old or new to tell their stories and to go every step of the way in doing so.  It’s great that someone like Ric O’ Barry of The Cove who at the end of his career has got many people around the world aware about what it happening to our oceans but it is individuals like Alexandra Cousteau who we all must support in the uphill and ongoing battle of the conservation of our oceans.  The more films that become available to us to remind us that everyone on this planet needs to do something, the better the chance we change our whole attitude, behaviour and practices towards the oceans.  You can hear her passion but at the same time her sadness about the treatment of our oceans but this is a testament of a person who is not telling a myth but cautionary tales.

Premiere of L'Odyssee (Cousteau Bio Pic) in Paris

PURE PEOPLE

Lors de la présentation du film L'Odyssée le 3 octobre à Paris, qui retrace le parcours du Jacques-Yves Cousteau, l'équipe du film était bien évidemment réunie autour du trio principal : Lambert Wilson incarne le légendaire commandantAudrey Tautousa femme Simone et Pierre Niney, son fils Philippe. Le réalisateur Jérôme Salle, Vincent Heneine, Chloé Hirschman, Rafaël De Ferran et Ulysse Stein étaient donc de la fête dans l'enceinte de l'UGC Normandie. Une projection qui a été applaudie par les membres de la famille Cousteau : Jan (Janice), l'épouse du défunt Philippe Cousteau, et leurs enfants Alexandra et Philippe Cousteau.

Jan Cousteau a ouvert ses archives pour les besoins du film, livrant une belle collaboration avec le réalisateur Jérôme Salle. Le commandant a lui fondé une autre famille après son mariage avec Simone. Il a épousé Francine Triplet, qui a été hôtesse de l'air d'Air France en 1991. Avant leur mariage, le couple a eu deux enfants : Diane en 1979 et Pierre-Yves en 1981. Avec son mari, elle a écrit les commentaires de différents documentaires filmés. Après sa mort en 1997, Francine Cousteau est devenue présidente de l'association The Cousteau Society. Le film L'Odyssée ne revient pas sur l'histoire de leur couple mais se concentre sur la relation entre Cousteau et son fils Philippe (qui s'est tué en hydravion en 1979), dont la mère était Simone Melchior (ils avaient eu un premier fils ensemble, Jean-Michel). 

L'histoire de L'Odyssée : 1948. Jacques-Yves Cousteau, sa femme et ses deux fils, vivent au paradis, dans une jolie maison surplombant la mer Méditerranée. Mais Cousteau ne rêve que d'aventure. Grâce à son invention, un scaphandre autonome qui permet de respirer sous l'eau, il a découvert un nouveau monde. Désormais, ce monde, il veut l'explorer. Et pour ça, il est prêt à tout sacrifier.

4 Days With Alexandra Cousteau, Explorer/Wife/Mother And An Heir To A Name

INQUIRER

But papa, you can’t eat the fish,” exclaims five-year-old Clémentine. “That’s who we’re trying to save!”

We’re sitting to a sumptuous seafood lunch at Pangulasian Resort in El Nido, Palawan. “Papa” is Fritz Neumeyer, Berlin-based German architect and father to Clémentine and the insanely cute, amiable 11-month-old Balthasar.

It sounds like a regular little girl’s protest, except that, in this case, it’s coming from an infinitely more informed place.

After all, the kids’ mama, Neumeyer’s wife, is Alexandra Cousteau, filmmaker, explorer, senior adviser to the international conservation organization Oceana, granddaughter of legendary explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and a renowned champion of the environment. And no, she doesn’t eat fish.

In an earlier interview with Inquirer Lifestyle, Cousteau stated that, in this day and age, “Eating a tuna is like eating a tiger”—because tuna fisheries are being decimated as swiftly and dangerously as the charismatic big cat.

“I don’t mean to sound alarmist, but I am alarmed,” notes Cousteau.

It’s been, for her, an exhausting 10 days in early September in the Philippines, hopping from Manila to Dumaguete, Cebu, and now Palawan as guest of Oceana Philippines, giving a face to the organization’s fisheries-focused campaigns.

Love of my grandfather's life

We spend four days with her at El Nido, diving and talking about her work.

Today, however, other than shooting scenes for Oceana Philippines’ public service announcements, as well as for a short film for Oceana International, Cousteau can take it slower. It’s one of the family’s rare trips together, and she and Neumeyer have been able to scuba dive together and play with the kids.

Cousteau is tall, elegant, and extremely articulate when talking of her passion.     The accent is American; her mother Janice Sullivan was a model originally from Los Angeles when she met Philippe Cousteau, himself an explorer and constant companion of his father Jacques on explorations on board their famous boat, the Calypso—which, incidentally, came to the Philippines in 1990, along with its famous captain.

Tragically, Philippe died at age 38 in a plane crash in 1979.

“He was the love of my grandfather’s life,” Cousteau says. “He was never quite the same after that.”

She was only three years old, and her mother Janice was pregnant. Cousteau’s younger brother, TV host and one-time CNN correspondent Philippe Jr., was born six months later.

Thus, Cousteau recounts, she has lived in California, Connecticut, Spain, Costa Rica, Paris, and now Berlin, and speaks English, French and Spanish. Her undergraduate degree at Georgetown University was political science.

“I’m not a marine biologist, and nor was my grandfather, although everyone thinks he was,” she says. “I thought political science was a very interesting, analytical degree.”

Still, when she calls her precocious, water-loving daughter’s name with a marked French accent—“CLAY-muhn-teen!”—it’s the Cousteau romance all over again. Unless, of course, she and Neumeyer are calling her “Monkey,” and the gurgling Balthasar, simply “Fatty Pants.”

Romance

Cousteau and Neumeyer met in Paris, and have been married five years. “Our first date was the premiere of the film ‘Oceans’ by Jacques Perrin, and he loved it,” she says with a laugh. “I thought it was a good sign.”

Neumeyer is a self-confessed “city slicker” with a wry, self-deprecating humor. “Why are all the white people on this side of the table?” he hollers over dinner.

He practices green architecture, mostly for private clients, having given up office life a while back to have his own time. He’s also a jock, going straight from a dive—in his wetsuit

—to the basketball court to dribble around with the El Nido staff.

Also, he’s so comfortable being Cousteau’s husband, he’s even starting an Instagram account called “Married to An Explorer.”

“I’m the beneficiary of all this,” he says, stretching his arms out. “She changed me!”

“Not every guy would be willing to be married to somebody with a name, or be Mr. Cousteau, but he’s secure enough,” Cousteau says. “I’ve been brainwashing him. He’s a very nurturing father, though. We’re 50-50 in parenting. Just because I’m the woman doesn’t mean I’m going to be 100 percent.”

Indeed, on the flight home from El Nido, when Balthasar wails for the first time since I meet him, it’s Neumeyer who rocks the baby to sleep, father and son hiding under a blanket.

No celebrity

Which brings us to the family name. “Yes, there were expectations, but there were also opportunities,” Cousteau says. “It wasn’t a silver spoon, but it was an opportunity to be part of something if I wanted to be.”

She’s not much of a celebrity, Cousteau notes: “I walk down the street and people don’t recognize me. I have a lot of privacy, and I protect and guard my privacy. But I can step into the issues with a certain amount of celebrity when I choose to, and when I think it can make a difference. I can pull that card when it can help issues. Otherwise I’m happy being a mom, and being at home working on stuff.”

Ironic, though, that she’s getting her hands dirty in ways her grandfather never did. “Well, we have to be in the nitty-gritty, in a way we weren’t 20 years ago. When my grandfather was born, there were one billion people on earth. Now there’s seven billion, in the span of a hundred years. It’s insane. In the Philippines, it’s gone from 10 to 110 million people. And everyone wants to live like Americans! Even Americans shouldn’t be living the way they do!” she says with a hearty laugh.

“Maybe it’s because I know too much, as I’m friends with too many scientists looking at the trends, not just tree-huggers who live in the forest,” says Cousteau of her alarm.

“Once in a while I will have some meat, maybe once every month, if I know where it came from. It’s a moral choice because it has such an impact. Eating meat at every meal is a luxury that will damage the world,” she says.

She walks the talk at home, as well, using nontoxic, organic personal care and home products. Her idea of relaxing is just being in nature with her children, Cousteau admits.

“When Clémentine comes home from school and she’s all dirty from playing, I ask, ‘Did you have a good day at school?’ She says, ‘Mama, look at me. Of course I had a good day.’”

Motherhood has certainly colored the way she now sees her mission: “My emotional investment is deeper. I am willing to invest my life so that my children’s lives are abundant.”

She gazes at Clémentine, engrossed in a colorful book of tropical fish. “I don’t want the story of their lives to be the disappearance of all the things that we love. I want her to participate in bringing it back if she chooses to. I want her to live with the expectation that it will get better, not the dread that it will get worse.”

Alexandra Cousteau looks out to the ocean, and I can only imagine what she sees. “I have to live with that expectation, too,” she says.



Read more: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/238764/4-days-with-alexandra-cousteau-motherwifeexplorer-and-an-heir-to-a-name/#ixzz4ZKAleWfN 
 

Alexandra Cousteau visits Philippines to show support for sustainable fisheries reforms

SUN STAR DUMAGUETE

Conservation advocate Alexandra Cousteau, senior adviser to Oceana, is in town since August 29 and up to September 11 to promote awareness on sustainable fisheries management and the global fight against illegal fishing practices.

The grandchild of renowned undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, Alexandra has closely followed in her father, Philippe, and grandfather’s footsteps and has been named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer for her films and advocacy on water issues.

She has been meeting with national and local political authorities, environment officials, representatives from the academe, the youth, and most importantly, local communities who are the front-liners in the campaign to save and protect the oceans.

Cousteau will be exploring the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape, the country’s largest marine protected area, where Oceana is working to end illegal commercial fishing and ensure that artisanal fishers will benefit the most from their municipal waters. She will be diving in Moalboal in Cebu, where the year-round presence of sardine shoals is one of the top attractions in the thriving tourism industry.

In Apo Island in Negros Oriental, she is expected to interact with community leaders, whose strong partnership with the government, private sector and civil society in protecting their rich marine resources has become a sterling model for protected areas.

A series of talks has been lined up for Cousteau on Oceana’s global campaign, “Save the Oceans, Feed the World”, at the Silliman University in Dumaguete, and at the University of Cebu Banilad Campus in Cebu City.

One of the highlights of her visit is a diving trip to El Nido in Palawan, which Jacques Cousteau explored in his boat ‘Calypso’ in the early 1990s. Alexandra will also be focusing on the impact of climate change and illegal fishing practices in El Nido’s coral reefs and the livelihoods of the residents.

Explorer Cousteau’s granddaughter urges Pinoys to protect Tañon, oceans

A National Geographic emerging explorer and the granddaughter of popular explorer and scientist Jacques-Yves Cousteau yesterday called for ocean conservation especially in the Tañon Strait Protective Seascape (TSPS) in the country.

Alexandra Cousteau, who was in Cebu City yesterday, joined the Ocean Talks forum together with government officials at the Cebu City Sports Club.

“What brings us together today is the opportunity to restore the abundance in the oceans,” Cousteau said in her speech.

Cousteau is the current senior advisor of Oceana. She joined the international nongovernment organization in 2011 to help the advocacy through expeditions.

“Philippines belongs to the Filipino people. You are the center of the biodiversity in this planet,” she added.

For her, what is important is the opportunity to restore the ocean and it is meaningful.

“Conservation is not just sacrifice. This is not just about the whales, dolphins and turtles but to restore these resources for people,” Cousteau said.

Conservation is also an opportunity to make better for everyone.

Despite TSPS being protected, Cousteau said this needs enforcement of the law.

“This needs more boats, more people along the Tañon Strait,” she added.

In 1988, former president Fidel Ramos issued Presidential Decree 1234 that proclaimed the Tañon Strait as a protected area where commercial fishing is prohibited. It is an important migration corridor that is 161 km long where 14 species of sea mammals, 18,830 ha. of coral reefs and 5,000 ha of mangrove areas with 26 known mangrove species are found.

Cousteau will be staying in the country for 12 days. Aside from Cebu, she also went to Apo Island in Negros Oriental. She will also leave today for Palawan.

Baltazar Tribunalo, head of Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRMMO); Elias Fernandez Jr., Department of Interior and Local Government-Central Visayas (DILG-7) assistant regional director; and Alan Poquita, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Central Visayas (BFAR-7) assistant regional director were among the government officials who attended the Ocean Talk forum.

“Let us work together in terms of laws and enforcement. Let us help the lives of the fishermen,” said Tribunalo, who represented Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III and assured of the governor’s support in protecting the ocean.

Fernandez and Poquita also promised to support Costeau’s advocacy to protect the ocean.
“We will not abandon (Tañon Strait) and will collectively work with other government agencies for this advocacy,” said Poquita.

Alexandra Cousteau: "The choices we make impact our oceans"

Manila Bulletin

Alexandra Cousteau was introduced to the ocean at an early age. She was only three months old when she was brought to her first expedition. She was seven, when her grandfather taught her to dive.

More than being a Cousteau, Alexandra’s whole being is connected to the ocean as she had navigated its wonders, witnessed its diversity, and its abundance throughout her life.

The ocean has always been her way of life. Alexandra said she’d never seen her expeditions as a profession. “I never felt pressured to do this. It was just as much a way of life as a career choice,” she said, “I never really thought of it as a resumé, I just grew up with this.”

Unfortunately, the world does not share the same love the Cousteaus have for the ocean.

“I’ve had the opportunity now to see changes in our oceans, first hand.” Cousteau said on August 30,”And [these were] dramatic changes, not just little changes.”

“I’ve seen places I knew as a child disappear,” she shared.

Alexandra compared the abundance of life her grandfather enjoyed during his time to what she has during hers, and she worries that if the world fails to save the ocean, the future generations may no longer be able to see its beauty.

“I realize that I am standing at this point, where there was amazing abundance that my grandfather knew at my age,” Alexandra shared, ”when my five-year-old daughter was my age, there could be little left for her generation.”

With this, she called for immediate action, ”this is the time for us to act, it’s now, it’s not tomorrow, it’s not the next day, it’s today because the window of opportunity… to bring back a diverse and abundant ocean is closing.”

For four years now, Alexandra serves as an Oceana senior advisor and shares the same vision of saving the world through the oceans.

Being a filmmaker, she used documentaries to show the people how the world can be saved. In this way, not only does she raise awareness, she also educates.

“It is extraordinarily important for us to explore before we exploit because we are losing places before we even know what was there,” she pointed.

“We are very young in our understanding of the oceans, in our ability to protect our oceans. We don’t have that consciousness yet,” she said.

Alexandra expressed her grandfather would’ve been “terribly” alarmed for failing “to stop the momentum of loss, in spite of all [his] efforts.” She recalled when Antarctica was threatened by exploitation, her grandfather, Jacques, lead an initiative to sign a petition.

He gathered “petitions on paper because it wasn’t the Internet age yet,” Alexandra shared, which brought her to point out that today, the world is more capable of saving the ocean.

“Today, we have things we didn’t have before. We have technologies. We have remote-operated vehicles. We have organizations like Oceana. We have the Internet, [which] allows us to communicate with each other and create virtual communities, advocate for a cause,” she said.

In the end, Alexandra reminded: “The ocean starts in our backyard. They start at our the dinner table. They start in our supermarkets. They start in our gutters – that’s where the oceans begin. The choices we make… in all these different ways impact our oceans.”

Explorer Jacques Cousteau was a magical man, says granddaughter Alexandra

Alexandra Coustea speaks to reporters in Makati City on August 30, 2016. Oceana Philippines vice president Gloria Ramos sits to her left. 

Alexandra Coustea speaks to reporters in Makati City on August 30, 2016. Oceana Philippines vice president Gloria Ramos sits to her left. 

For decades until his death in 1997, Jacques Cousteau brought the oceans to our living rooms, taking us with him in his mission to save the seas. In his explorations he expanded mankind's knowledge of the undersea world, and in his films he shared this knowledge with us, children in the '70s and '80s watching rapt as he and his crew traveled the sea in his famous boat, Calypso.

He was also an innovator, helping to develop an open-circuit type of self-contained underwater breathing apparatus called the Aqua-Lung in 1943 that soon became better known by its acronym, scuba.

He was a man whose greatness was recognized in his lifetime: He rubbed shoulders with presidents and kings and was made a Commander of the Legion of Honor by his homeland France.

To Alexandra Cousteau, however, he was more than that: He was a doting grandfather who introduced her to the oceans and the cause of marine conservation in a way that a small child could understand and appreciate.

"I would visit him at the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco and we would have games where I would be the mermaid princess and he would be the steward king of this underwater universe and he'd talk about how we had to take care of them," she said.

"We had these moments together. He was a magical man."

Alexandra, 40, is the third generation of Cousteaus to explore the seas and lead the charge in saving them, along with her brother Philippe Jr. and cousins Fabien and Celine. In 2011 she joined international marine conservation organization Oceana as a senior adviser. Last week, she arrived in the country to assist Oceana Philippines in campaigning for the protection of two of the country's biodiversity hotspots, the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape in the Visayas and the vast Benham Rise off Luzon.

A special trip to Palawan

In the five years she has been with Oceana, Alexandra has traveled the world, making documentaries and advocating the conservation of the world's waters.

Last December she was in Belize, where a campaign was underway to stop oil drilling in one of the world's largest coral reef systems. "The government had carved it up into different sections that could be leased through oil exploration and drilling, and obviously that would have been a disaster," she told reporters in Makati City on Tuesday. "Imagine an oil rig over the [Great] Blue Hole, this iconic place. So there was this campaign that included community involvement, political advocacy and it included the press...[and it was] a huge victory that Oceana was able to get. So I got to be part of that; it was very exciting."

But the Philippines is rather a special trip for her. In the early '90s, just a few years before his death, Jacques Cousteau explored El Nido in Palawan in his boat, Calypso. Now Alexandra is bringing her five-year-old daughter there to snorkel for the first time.

"My family's here with me—I have a five-year-old daughter and an 11-month-old-son—and I'll be able to take my daughter snorkeling for the first time in Palawan, which will be extremely special for her and for me as well," she said. "There are so few places [like that] left in the world, and to be able to share a place like that with my child is extraordinarily meaningful. Because part of her history, her legacy, are the oceans, love for the oceans and conservation of the oceans.

"I want her as a child to experience them the way my grandfather experienced them and my father experienced them, and how I experienced them as a child. Places like El Nido are increasingly museums; they remind us of how the oceans used to be everywhere, and are now still existing in just a handful of places."

Filmmaking is as much a part of the Cousteau legacy as exploration and conservation, and in Palawan, Alexandra and Oceana will be filming for a documentary on the oceans. "It will be the first place we will film in," she said. "I can't wait!"

The next generation of Cousteaus

Alexandra and her brother Philippe are the children of Jacques' younger son Philippe, who was killed in a plane mishap in 1979. Fabien and Celine are the children of Jacques' eldest son Jean-Michel. Like Jacques, they are all explorers and filmmakers.

Alexandra said there was never any question about her joining the family business. Indeed, she is a practiced speaker, sharing her vision and plans with ease. "I never felt pressured to do this," she said. "It was as much a way of life as a career choice. I just grew up with this."

Alexandra also enjoys the traveling aspect of her job. "My favorite moment is when I step off a plane in a place I've never been before and I can see the faces and hear the voices and smell the air and hear the sounds of that new place," she said. "I know there's an adventure that awaits and I don't know what's going to happen, but I know it's going to be great. I love being on an expedition with my crew and telling a story together, having a common purpose. These are the things that matter to me in terms of why I do what I do. I like working on things that I believe in. I like feeling like my values and my choices are aligned with how I spend my time and the choices I make for myself and my family."

It's an attitude that her daughter seems to have inherited along with the family love for the oceans. Alexandra says that when she was trying to explain to her five-year-old that she would be meeting with reporters here, her child instructed her to pass on a message.

"She said, 'You tell all those people that you'll see tomorrow that the oceans are wonderful and they're great and they're special and so important for all of us.' So I've passed on my message," she laughed.

Ocean advocate Alexandra Cousteau to youth: Earth's future lies with you

Marine explorer and environmental advocate Alexandra Cousteau said of her first brush with the blue ocean as she sat down for a talk with several members of the UP Marine Biological Society (UP MBS). Cousteau had just wrapped up an interview at Rappler to talk about the need to conserve biodiversity-rich areas in the Philippines such as the Tañon Strait and the Coral Triangle. (READ: Ten things you didn't know about the Tañon Strait)

Cousteau is the senior advisor to Oceana, a non-profit organization focused on ocean conservation. She is also the granddaughter of iconic undersea explorer and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau and has carried on her family’s love for the ocean and its legacy of environmental protection.

UP MBS got a chance to interview the renowned environmentalist on the role of the youth and the significance of the media in promoting advocacies and conservation issues in the Philippines and around the world. The Diliman-based organization promotes awareness of the marine environment through the sport of skin diving and the principles of environmentalism.

'IN YOUR HANDS'. Marine environmental advocate Alexandra Cousteau talks about her life and work with UP MBS students. Photo by Zak Yuson/Rappler

'IN YOUR HANDS'. Marine environmental advocate Alexandra Cousteau talks about her life and work with UP MBS students. Photo by Zak Yuson/Rappler

Cousteau was stunned to hear student Jasmine Santiago recount their experience during coastal clean-ups within Metro Manila. Santiago mentioned how volunteers would not be able to see the sand underneath the piles of trash even after hours of collecting from the same spot.

As an experienced diver, Cousteau has seen it all. “I don’t actually dive as much as people think because of how much depressing stuff there is to see and I just don’t want to see it anymore.” From diseased corals to depleted ecosystems, staring devastation in the face comes with Cousteau’s job of being a dedicated environmental advocate. (READ: 'Protecting Benham Bank key to food security' - Oceana)

Cousteau revealed that, no matter how tough it gets underwater, she still finds home in her element. Whether in a pool, a sandy bottom, or a beautiful dive spot, Cousteau enjoys the blue and continues to practice her diving.

Cousteau is constantly inspired by the local people and the communities she meets all over the world, especially the youth who are involved in various environmental issues.

“It can get kind of lonely out there… like nothing you do matters and it’s never gonna change… everybody has those moments. And so when I find like-minded people and I find them around the world, it just makes you feel like you have a tribe.”

Cousteau encouraged the students by telling them that there are people around the world fighting for the same causes they are. “We simply do that because we are human,” she said. “The ocean is where we are from and it hurts to see it die.”

Apart from commending the youth and other student-led groups like UP MBS for participating in environmental advocacies, Cousteau was also impressed by the number of women who are involved in marine conservation here in the Philippines.

Student Gab Mejia asked Cousteau about the most effective ways photography and other media can be utilized in advocacies such as marine conservation. She shared some anecdotes of how her grandparents used to make their first underwater films.

“In the 50s, there was no underwater camera, there was no underwater flash, there was no underwater sound. I mean it seems impossible to imagine today but when they were getting started they took the precursor to Super 8… and they would put that in a bell jar with film… that they would splice together to three-minute reels.”

Cousteau explained how, unlike the filmmakers in her grandfather’s generation, anyone today can easily share their stories to the entire world and, in turn, become influencers.

Daniel Ocampo, the campaign manager of Oceana Philippines, is an underwater filmmaker and photographer who shared some tips with the students.

“No image is worth harassing or destroying marine life,” said Ocampo. He added that tourists and divers must be conscientious when photographing and filming underwater, as plants and animals can be sensitive to flash and other similar obstructions.

Cousteau urged the students: “Document how much fun you’re having. Don’t forget to turn the cameras on yourselves… They will join you because you’re having a blast.” She continued, “If you frame your stories as an adventure, people [will] want to have that human experience that you’re sharing with each other.”

Alexandra dives in Palawan. Photo: OCEANA/Danny O'Campo

Alexandra dives in Palawan. Photo: OCEANA/Danny O'Campo

Cousteau advised Mejia and the other UP MBS members to study and practice different media. She also encouraged them to find mentors and heroes like Ocampo, so that they may learn from them.

Although Cousteau has seen the beauty and destruction of marine life around the world, this year marks her first trip to the Philippines. Palawan and Apo Island are some of the destinations she will be visiting. She was proud to mention how her grandfather had filmed in El Nido in the 90s; and now, years later, her daughter will learn to snorkel for the first time there.

When asked what lies ahead for marine conservation, Cousteau believes its future is not up to her, but depends on all of us. Cousteau reminded the youth that the success of conservation efforts relies on how well people tell stories, cooperate, campaign, and communicate these important causes.

As they dive into another academic year ahead, the UP MBS members hope to encourage more Filipino youth to take action and become environmental influencers by following in the footsteps of its distinguished alumni, organizations like Oceana, and veterans such as Alexandra Cousteau. – Rappler.com

Cousteau Receives Honorary Doctorate from Georgetown University

The Hoya

Environmentalist and explorer Alexandra Cousteau (COL ’98) encouraged graduates to take control of their own legacies, maintain a sense of wonder and preserve the planet in a commencement address to the Georgetown College Class of 2016 in McDonough Arena on Saturday.

The graduation was held in McDonough Arena instead of on Healy Lawn due to rain. The College’s commencement was split into two ceremonies in order to accommodate the graduates and their families, with students with last names beginning with letters A through K attending a ceremony at 9 a.m. and students with last names beginning with letters L through Z graduating in a ceremony at 11:30 a.m.

Environmentalist and explorer Alexandra Cousteau (COL ’98) asked graduates to take control of their legacies and the future of the planet in her commencement address to the Georgetown College on Saturday.

Environmentalist and explorer Alexandra Cousteau (COL ’98) asked graduates to take control of their legacies and the future of the planet in her commencement address to the Georgetown College on Saturday.

Cousteau, the granddaughter of famed French oceanographer, filmmaker and conservationist Jacque Cousteau, delivered her address at both ceremonies. Cousteau was selected as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2008, and has been involved in conservation advocacy in the past decade.

University President John J. DeGioia offered remarks at the earlier ceremony but did not take part in the later ceremony, as he was attending the concurrent graduation for the School of Nursing and Health Studies in the Leavey Center Ballroom.

Cousteau, who received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, said the graduating students stand prepared to lead the future, calling attention to the students’ families.

“You began at their bosoms and on their laps; they carried you when you were too tired to walk. You are the living embodiment of what they hoped for the future. They made a person — you — and sent you out to learn and observe and become ready to inherit the future,” Cousteau said.

Cousteau reflected both on her grandfather’s influence on her childhood and on the way her time as an undergraduate at Georgetown affected her. She urged graduates not to let their families’ histories and expectations define them, but to instead actively seek to shape the legacies with which they are left.

“I grew up seeing my life play out in the context of continuing my grandfather’s legacy, continuing his work, furthering his ideas, settling his unfinished business. But it was here at Georgetown that I started to find my own voice, that I found my own passions, interests and causes, that my own path started to appear,” Cousteau said. “I realize now that legacy is something you inherit, yes, but it need not be something you passively receive and accept.”

Cousteau said exploration must be defined — and approached — differently in a time when technology gives people instant access to the rest of the world, contrasting this to her grandfather’s experience.

“We have a radically new relationship with information and the technology that provides it. We carry in our pockets access to the vast accumulation of human knowledge. … Given this great wealth of access, discovering something never before seen is a good deal more difficult, but discovering new ways to look at what we already know is an exploratory attitude anyone can practice,” Cousteau said.

Cousteau urged the graduates to try to look at the world once again with a childhood wonder, recounting her own experience of being enthralled as a child by tadpoles and their transformation into frogs.

“To gaze with this kind of wonder brings an indescribable comfort, a sense that all there ever was, is, or will be, is actually a part of one grand thing. You — all of you — are part of one grand thing,” Cousteau said. “To remain aware of this, to see through those eyes, is a way to guard yourself against the disillusionment, detachment and apathy that do so much harm to the human spirit. If you can retain the ability to look at the world with that sense of wonder, you’ll come to know it in a deeper and more profound way than you might have thought possible.”

Cousteau pivoted from talking about the importance of maintaining a sense of wonder about the world to discussing the environmental problems the planet faces. Taking steps to protect the environment is urgently needed, according to Cousteau.

“This world badly needs our protection right now. My own sense of wonder for this planet, and all her various little miracles, is matched only by my increasing sense of panic for what we’re losing. … I fear that at a time when technological advances have made the citizens of the world more socially connected than ever before, we have become distracted from the connectedness we share with every micro and macro organism on this planet. For human beings and the planet we share, the situation is dire,” Cousteau said.

Cousteau said the graduates’ generation will help decide the future of the environment.

“A part of your legacy is this uncertain future. Nothing short of a total shift away from our carbon-based economy can address the planetary emergency we all face,” Cousteau said. “Yours is the generation that will impose a radical reconsideration of how we live in this world, how we consume resources, how we restore natural capital, how we protect the future from the excesses of the past. You will be the brave architects of this new world.”

After Cousteau’s speech, the 789 graduates of the Class of 2016 received their diplomas from College Dean Chester Gillis.

New Doc from Nat Geo, C&A Highlights Business Case for Organic Cotton Production

Sustainable Brands

Cotton is planted on 2.4 percent of the world’s crop land and yet it accounts for 24 percent and 11 percent of the global sales of insecticide and pesticides, respectively. Organic cotton represents less than 1 percent of the global total annual crop, but National Geographic, international clothing brand C&A, and activist and filmmaker Alexandra Cousteau believe that needs to change.

A new 60-minute documentary, “For the Love of Fashion,” emphasizes “the need for a paradigm shift in the cotton value chain.” Cousteau, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and a recognized leader on water issues, travels to India, the United States and Germany to help viewers understand the global need for more organic cotton. In the film, she meets local cotton farmers in Madhya Pradesh, India whose lives have “improved considerably” after changing from conventional to sustainable methods of production, and interviews industry leaders in the U.S. and Germany, including sustainability experts from C&A.

Cousteau spoke passionately about the issue at a screening event in Berlin: “Approximately half of all clothes manufactured globally are created with cotton, but conventional cotton farming risks harming our planet irreparably.” Through her own talent for storytelling, she is continuing the work of her renowned grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau and father Philippe Cousteau.

“We are excited to support a documentary that provides a window into more sustainable cotton practices. Ultimately, we would like to inspire brands and consumers that more sustainable cotton has significant advantages for people and the planet,” said Jeffrey Hogue, Chief Sustainability Officer at C&A.

“European Fashion Consumers need to understand that their choice matters in order to support a sustainable development in cotton growing countries,” Hogue added.

C&A has previously collaborated with organizations such as CanopyStyle and Ashoka on initiatives to improve its supply chain, and the company asserts that there are substantial economic and environmental benefits of using organic cotton. In 2012, C&A claims it became the world’s largest retailer of organic cotton garments, selling 85 million pieces representing 30 percent of its cotton revenue. In 2013, the latter figure reached 38 percent.

It is worth noting that companies have sustainable sourcing options other than organic; for example, as of late last year, IKEA exclusively sources according to the Better Cotton Standard.

For the Love of Fashion will premiere on the National Geographic Channel beginning later this month in various European countries, Mexico, Brazil, and China. Airing times for the United States, United Kingdom and Canada have yet to be announced. You can check listings for local airing times by market at natgeotv.com.

Filmmaker Alexandra Cousteau to deliver Luther College's 2016 Commencement address

Luther College

Filmmaker, environmentalist and third-generation explorer Alexandra Cousteau will share insights gained from a lifetime of world travel and water advocacy during the Luther College Commencement address Sunday, May 22, in Decorah.

Commencement ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. in Carlson Stadium on the Luther campus. Tickets are required for those attending the ceremony. Guests with tickets should be seated by 9:45 a.m.

Guests without tickets will be able to view the live stream of the ceremony in the Center for Faith and Life Main Hall and Marty's in the lower level of Dahl Centennial Union. The ceremony will be streamed live at stream.luther.edu.

Cousteau is the granddaughter of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, a world-renowned explorer famous for recording his discoveries in books and documentaries, as well as pioneering the field of marine conservation. Jacques-Yves, together with Cousteau's father, Philippe Cousteau, produced "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau," an award-winning television series showcasing the wonders of the ocean.

Carrying on the family legacy of exploring and describing the natural world, Cousteau joined her parents on expeditions before she could walk. She has since traveled around the world, building her own legacy around water conservation and advocacy.

She is the founder of Blue Legacy International, a non-profit organization with the mission of empowering people to reclaim and restore the world's waters. Cousteau has produced more than 100 award-winning films for Blue Legacy, filming across six continents.

Cousteau has received a number of awards and honors for her work. She was honored in 2008 as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, an award recognizing visionary young trailblazers who push the boundaries of discovery, adventure and global problem solving. The World Economic Forum also named her as one of its 2010 Young Global Leaders.

Cousteau and her family share their time between Washington, D.C., and Berlin, Germany.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,400, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the bachelor of arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website:http://www.luther.edu.

Alexandra Cousteau visits Belize for marine conservation

Breaking Belize News

Oceana’s Senior Advisor, Alexandra Cousteau, who is also an Ocean Explorer and National Geographic filmmaker, arrived in Belize on December 6th and departed today after meeting with several stakeholders in marine conservation.

During her stay, Cousteau met with Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega to discuss sustainability in management, Mayor of San Pedro Daniel Guerrero, Councilor Gary Grief and other tourism partners to talk about opportunities and challenges facing the island that is the country’s biggest tourist destination.

She also met with various prominent fishermen from across the country, including Dennis Garbutt from Punta Gorda, who explained to Cousteau how gillnets are devastating some important fish species and she snorkeled the Hol Chan, as well as Gladden Spit Marine Reserves with their employees who spoke of seaweed cultivation as an alternative livelihood opportunity.

Cousteau’s main reason for visiting though, was to give her speech at the Energy of Nature vs. Nature of Energy Science Symposium, which was held last week Wednesday. In her address, she expressed her love for Belize and all its marine resources and pledged to do her best to preserve them.

Alexandra Cousteau: Setting Her Own Sail

Smart Meetings Magazine

While growing up in France and the United States, Alexandra Cousteau spent a good deal of time with her grandfather—legendary underwater explorer and filmmaker Jacques-Yves Cousteau—and discovered that they shared a deep passion.

“We would talk about the stars, the seas and living creatures; I asked him a million questions,” she says. “He could relate to my curiosity because he had the same childlike wonder and awe in him. It was really beautiful.”

Cousteau has been immersed in the natural world since infancy. She joined her parents, Philippe and Jan, on an Easter Island expedition when she was four months old. By the age of 3 she had toured Africa with her father, and four years later her grandfather taught her how to scuba dive.

Like her famous French grandfather, Cousteau, 39, has maintained this passionate curiosity into adulthood and now is a world-renowned environmentalist. She and her brother, Philippe Cousteau Jr., co-founded EarthEcho International in 2000 to honor the legacy of their father by providing youth with resources to identify and solve environmental challenges, starting in their own communities.

She was selected as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2008, and that same year founded Blue Legacy International to continue her family’s work preserving oceans and freshwater sources. Cousteau also serves as a senior adviser to Oceana, the largest international organization committed to ocean conservation.

A principal focus of her work has involved traveling throughout the world with the Blue Legacy team, which seeks “to empower people to reclaim and restore the world’s water, one community at a time.” The organization has been collaborating with citizens, business leaders and elected officials to increase public awareness and inspire actions to steward water resources more responsibly. Blue Legacy has been sharing its findings through mainstream and social media, along with more than 100 short films.

Inspiring Others to Act

During her travels, Cousteau has made a point of listening to people’s personal experiences. She draws from their stories in the many talks she delivers annually to meeting groups and other gatherings throughout the world. Like her grandfather, she is a masterful, inspirational storyteller.

“I tell real-life stories that appeal to everyone,” Cousteau says. “I speak to people in red and blue states, to the rich and poor, to the young and old. And I engage my audiences. I’ve found that there’s a core that we all share, and I try to inspire people to take the first step to protect their communities.”

Some of her talks include the stories she heard while traveling on a 100-day Blue Legacy expedition across five continents in 2009 and on a 138-day, 18,000-mile venture across the United States, Canada and Mexico in a custom biodiesel production bus in 2010.

“During the 2010 expedition, I noticed something in America that I hadn’t seen in other parts of the world,” she says. “I saw how communities were starting to come together to protect what they love. I dug down to the individual level to find out why people were doing this.”

People shared childhood memories of fishing and other local aquatic experiences, and lamented how irresponsible use of resources has eliminated or curtailed these activities.

“They shared their passion,” Cousteau says. “My grandfather used to say, ‘People protect what they love, and they love what they know.’ I discovered that instead of writing a check to help a situation in Madagascar, for example, people want to get involved in protecting the area where they grew up, and that they love.”

She has posed three major challenges for people: Make a difference in the global water crisis by connecting with organizations that are making a difference; manage your own personal water footprint; and get involved on your own waterfront.

Fostering Collaboration

Cousteau found that many people are bonding together to address water issues so that their children will live in more healthy, robust and balanced natural communities. This isn’t the only benefit, though. “Opening children’s eyes to the wonders of nature also has immeasurable value,” Cousteau says.

She thinks that community efforts can be further strengthened by producing more concrete evidence of the extent of water resource problems. “One thing that is needed is an aggregate of water-quality data, because data is fragmented now. We need to be able to tell the story of places in a compelling way that is rooted in facts, rather than being just anecdotal,” she says.

Cousteau feels that Americans have been very receptive to her family’s efforts. “They have been very generous with their support,” she says. “Hollywood, not the French, created Cousteau by investing heavily in my grandfather’s films. Americans will embrace seemingly crazy ideas and come up with ingenious and extraordinary ways to tackle problems. It’s an appetite I’ve rarely seen elsewhere.”

Continuing a Legacy

Cousteau views her contributions as an evolution of the work of her grandfather and father, an oceanographer and documentary filmmaker who died at the age of 38 in a boat crash in 1979. She was 3 years old and doesn’t have any clear memories of him.

“The challenges that I face are different than those faced by my grandfather and father because environmental issues have changed, and so has technology,” she says. “My grandfather was a pioneer who embarked on a new path when in his 40s, but he didn’t become an environmentalist overnight. My father was an environmentalist much earlier in his life.”

Philippe Cousteau produced several documentaries with his father, including Voyage to the Edge of the World, and produced his own cutting-edge PBS series about environmental issues, Oasis in Space, before his tragic death.“He was ahead of his time,” Cousteau says.

Environmental issues have steadily and significantly changed since then. “The issues are more urgent and the funding situation [to address them] is very different,” Cousteau says. “There’s a lot less money to go around. But now it’s possible to create community virtually, rather than just geographically. I want to look at how we can harness this technology and the ways people can tell and weave themselves into stories.”

Facing Current Challenges

Cousteau feels that many challenges loom ahead to successfully address water-resource problems. “It’s easy to get depressed when we see destruction caused by things such as droughts and oil spills,” she says. “But then you look at how quickly we can change the world when we put our minds to it.

“I think that we’re coming to the conclusion that we need to protect our natural resources if we want to maintain a way of life that keeps people healthy and happy. I think we’re waking up to the immeasurable value of preserving our environment and feel confident that we will see more changes.”

She now splits time between Washington, D.C., and Berlin with her husband, German architect Fritz Neumeyer, and their 4-year-old daughter, Clementine. Cousteau is fluent in English, French and Spanish. “I’m culturally French and feel at home in Europe,” she says.

Cousteau lights up when she talks about the happy times she shares exploring the natural world with her daughter. Their experiences are reminiscent of those Cousteau shared with her grandfather.

“I want her to be a part of all that I’m doing, just as I was with my family when I was growing up,” Cousteau says. “We love to go exploring together. We go to the lake and forest, where we climb over logs and find things to put in a bug jar. Right now her goal is to ride horses with me.”

Clementine travels around the world with her family, as Cousteau did during her childhood. Before boarding a plane to Greece recently, Clementine went up to one of the pilots and in true Cousteau fashion, excitedly announced her objective: “I’m going on an adventure!” she said.

We Need to Empower Everyone to Tackle Water Issues

EcoWatch

by Alexandra Cousteau

As we enjoy the last of summer, I find myself reflecting on the last few months with bittersweet memories. While swimming in the Pacific Ocean and sailing on Lake Champlain, Vermont, I have enjoyed the best our water resources have to offer. News reports across the U.S., however, have been a reminder that our water systems are increasingly at risk of nutrient pollution.

North Carolina’s Chowan River, the Great Lakes and the entire Pacific coasthave experienced hazardous algal blooms this year that have prevented recreational activity, threatened the health of aquatic species and even endangered the health of communities living along these waterways.

I cannot imagine, and do not want, a future where our water is too polluted to enjoy the gifts it brings our lives.

Algal bloom on Lake Erie. Photo credit: Peter Essick, National Geographic / Resource Out of Place Visualization 2015

Algal bloom on Lake Erie. Photo credit: Peter Essick, National Geographic / Resource Out of Place Visualization 2015

Changing the course of our water future requires a collaborative approach that informs and empowers everyone—from national leaders and scientists to community groups and individual citizens. While efforts like the U.S. Open Water Data Initiative are championing unprecedented transparency of water information, there is a need to translate the complex science behind water data into tangible and accessible opportunities to increase the general public’s understanding of the state of water in the U.S.

With today’s innovative technology achievements, we know its possible to bring the power of storytelling and the science of water data together to inform communities and disturb the water management status quo.

The U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Blue Legacy International hosted the 2015 Visualizing Nutrients Challenge where solvers produced creative and compelling interpretations of nutrient water data demonstrating the possibilities for communicating risks, impacts and solutions related to nutrient pollution.

The visualization created by Matthew Seibert, Benjamin Wellington and Eric Roy of Landscape Metrics won the first price in the challenge for its interactive tutorial about algal blooms on Lake Erie, a water body that the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts will see algae growth this year that could rival the record-setting 2011 bloom.

Between government policy and engagement like the Visualizing Nutrients Challenge, momentum is building and public awareness of water issues is improving. Now is the time to come together around kitchen counters, in city halls and across conference tables to take collective action toward a more sustainable water future that is championed by each and every one of us.

Op-Ed: Obama can still prevent an Arctic catastrophe

Seattle Times Op-Ed

by Alexandra Cousteau

OCEANS connect our world. More than 70 percent of the planet is covered by ocean waters, and those waters are an integral part of our economies, cultures and food supply.

Yet human impacts, including acidification, noise, oil spills and habitat disruption endanger the world’s oceans. As a species, however, we are not helpless against these dangers to our important aquatic resources. Meaningful action to curb emissions of greenhouse gases, protect important places from risky industrial activities and move toward renewable sources of energy would go a long way to ensuring that future generations have healthy ocean ecosystems.

The Arctic Ocean exemplifies this urgent need for change and we must act now. North of Alaska, the Arctic Ocean is one the last intact ecosystems largely untouched by large-scale industrial activity. It supports vibrant communities whose residents have depended on the ocean for millennia and it is home to majestic animals, such as bowhead whales, polar bears, walrus and ice seals.

The Arctic is also increasingly threatened. Climate change is causing the Arctic region to warm faster than anywhere else on Earth, and factors like low salinity make the Arctic Ocean especially susceptible to acidification. On top of these changes, receding sea ice is making the region increasingly available for industrialization. Shipping and oil and gas exploration bring with them pollution and the risk of a major oil spill.

As I write this, Shell has mounted yet another effort to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean. The company’s last try, in 2012, resulted in mishaps, fines, government investigations and, of course, the grounding of its drill rig, the Kulluk. Investigators blamed Shell’s problems in large measure on the company’s failure to appreciate or mitigate the risks inherent in operating in one of the most remote and dangerous places on Earth.

This year, Shell submitted plans that did not comply with important protections for walrus — then tried to get the government to create an exception to those protections. It had problems during testing of its containment dome: the same dome that was famously “crushed like a beer can” in tests in Puget Sound in 2012. And, most recently, one of the company’s icebreakers suffered a 3-foot gash in its hull transiting known shallow waters when a safer route was available.

These problems add to the reality that neither Shell nor any other company is prepared to respond to a spill in icy Arctic waters. Five years ago, we watched as the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, killing 11 people and causing hundreds of millions of gallons of oil to pour into the Gulf of Mexico uncontrolled over 87 days. That catastrophe occurred in warm waters, close to response infrastructure. A spill in the Arctic would be a thousand miles from the nearest Coast Guard facilities in a region with high winds, waves, darkness and ice. Response would be impossible.

All of this — and yet the government has granted Shell new approvals to drill exploration wells. It is hard for me to reconcile that choice with President Obama’s stated commitments to protecting our oceans and to addressing climate change. The president, though, has a unique opportunity to chart a new course for the Arctic. He will be traveling to Alaska at the end of August as part of the kickoff to the United States’ chairmanship of the Arctic Council. The administration has started on the right track in establishing action to address climate change and ocean acidification as a priority for the U.S. chairmanship of the council.

Moving forward, we need bold action for the Arctic Ocean. The government should not feel beholden to poorly planned, multibillion-dollar investments made by oil companies. Instead, choices about whether to allow risky oil and gas activities must be made in the broader context of the need to address climate change, protect the Arctic, and plan for the future.

I hope that the president’s visit to Alaska will begin this broader conversation. After all, if we don’t act now to protect the Arctic Ocean, we might not get another chance.